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April 26, 2002

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%^$%^$COLUMBUS, Ohio – Five baseball players from Ohio State were among the more than 150 players named to the midseason watch list for the 15th annual Rotary Smith Award, that was announced Thursday. The award will be given to the nation’s top player June 24 in Houston, Texas.%^$

%^$The Buckeyes landed a pair of starting pitchers on the list in E.J. Laratta (Sr., Englewood, Colo./Cherry Creek) and Nate Smith (Jr., Bryan, Ohio/Bryan), as both own top 10 ERAs in the Big Ten. Smith tops the Conference with a 1.25 ERA and a record of 4-0, while Laratta boasts a 3.15 ERA with a 6-1 mark, the third-highest win total in the Big Ten.%^$

%^$The three other OSU players nominated for this prestigious honor are first baseman Nick Swisher (Jr., Parkersburg, W.Va./Parkersburg), second baseman Christian Snavely (So., Defiance, Ohio/Defiance) and outfielder Doug Deeds (So., Bexley, Ohio). Swisher was the 2000 Big Ten Freshman of the Year while Deeds, who rates fifth in the League with a .403 batting average, copped Freshman of the Year accolades last season. The trio leads the Buckeyes in hitting. Deeds has a team leading eight home runs, while Snavely and Swisher are batting .382 and .350, respectively.%^$

%^$Voting to determine the 12 semifinalists will begin in mid-May. Three finalists will be announced prior to the start of the NCAA super regionals, June 7-9.%^$